Anatomy of a Plan: A Trendsetter Before its Time


At the end of the 1990s, there began a major change in the way that many suburban houses were designed in the Greater Toronto Area. This was a change from the type of houses which started to be built in the 1980s characterized by a protruding garage. By the late 1990s the so called ‘wide lot’ houses with the garage recessed into the massing of the structure became popular. This allows for the house itself to be closer to the road. The builder Mattamy Homes was one of the first to promote such ‘wide lot’ designs for whole subdivisions starting around 1997, but almost two decades earlier, Bramalea Limited began building these trend-setting houses in many Bramalea communities.

Beginning at the end of the 1970s Bramalea Limited offered 1 or 2 such recessed-garage designs in certain communities. These plans were built next to houses with protruding garages, but were effective in breaking up what could otherwise be a monotonous streetscape.

The first series of houses presented below are the most common type built by Bramalea Limited, and have a completely flat front. Since the second floor is smaller than the main level and pulled to the front of the house, there is a ‘tail’ where the main floor sticks out at the back. The facades are almost symmetrical and reminiscent of a Georgian centre-hall plan – although one side of the main floor is the garage.

There are two main plans from this particular series, one at 1774 square feet, and another at 2040 square feet, built on 36 or 38-foot wide lots. They were built in various parts of Bramalea –  sometimes with slight tweaks in the plan and facade, while in other cases the exact same plan was built in various areas.

1774 1774p

Sunset, N-Section, c. 1983-19851774g


Sunset on Greenmount, G-Section, c. 1984



Manorcrest, M-Section, c. 1984



Sunset on Greenmount, G-Section, c. 1984

2040S 2040sp

Sunset, N-Section, c. 1983-1985 2040t 2040tp

Trail Ridge, N-Section, c. 1985-1987

It is interesting that the Bramalea versions of these houses were all quite similar. The company commonly built identical houses in Pickering, but in a few of Bramalea Limited’s other neighbourhoods the houses had very different facades for the same plans. Below is their plan for a development in Unionville, which is completely different from those at Bramalea:

001 002

Fairfields, Unionville, c. 1986

There are wider variations of the houses with a recessed two-car garage and flat fronts. The asymmetry is sometimes offset with a split facade, where the portion with the garage is recessed.

g h

Sterling Ridge, N-Section, c. 1980-1981W4


Sunrise Estates, M-Section, c. 1979-1980


The Strand by the Lake, J-Section, c. 1981-1982 and The Strand by the Park, N-Section, c. 1982-1983

Other narrow variations of recessed-garage houses were also built, but in these examples the front facade is not completely flat. As such, some have the ‘tail’ of the main floor sticking out behind, while others have the main floor protruding out in front of the house.



Sunrise Estates, M-Section, c. 1979-1980


Professor’s Lake South, J-Section, c. 1979-1980023

Super Singles Sale, M-Section, c. 1979



Showcase 2000, M-Section and section without a letter, c. 1982 


Highland Park, H-Section, c. 1984

Today, houses with a recessed garage the norm in new subdivisions. Some of the most recent additions to Bramalea – namely the infill pockets of houses on New Hampshire Court, Locksley Place/Hillside Drive – all have recessed garages. Perhaps the inspiration for such plans came from those that Bramalea Limited started building 35 years ago.

3 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Plan: A Trendsetter Before its Time

  1. Pingback: Montage by the Park | bramaleablog

  2. Pingback: Sunset | bramaleablog

  3. Pingback: 100 Blog Posts! | bramaleablog

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